Cast: Huma Qureshi, Saqib Saleem, Lisa Ray, Adil Hussain, Madalina Bellariu Ion, Rhea Chakraborty, Abhishek Singh
Director: Prawaal Raman
Tragedies of any kind, particularly involving death of parents, are hard to get over with, and time and again, writers and screenplay writers, have examined the psychological and sociological features that never seem to go away, and continue to haunt those affected.
An antique mirror can be the source of untold evil in anyone’s life. One never knows, but an official adaptation of Oculus, Dobaara: See Your Evil will make many cinegoers anxious to know why a horror film in Hindi would have mainstream actors playing lead actors. For this reason alone, they would take the trouble to watch it of course. I don’t know whether the original film did well at the box office or tanked but director Prawaal Raman’s remake is the kind of film that tries hard to scare you but does so while overstretching a point, or a scene, and thus, fails to make its point. And since it doesn’t have a lot of scares, there’s a void, which never gets filled.
The opening scene tries to set the tone with gloom descending from nowhere and characters delivering lines eerily. Soon one realises there’s something amiss in what appears to be a normal girl’s life. After all, what struck the Merchant family a decade ago continues to haunt the surviving siblings, Natasha and Kabir Merchant. The two kids led a traumatic childhood and could not recover for long. For Natasha and Kabir, life as kids, sprang a major shock when they found their sculptor father Alex (Adil Hussain) going loony, and often beating their mother Lisa (Lisa Ray). With Alex also having extra-marital affairs, their parents’ marriage was bound to be doomed. And one day, Alex, in a fit of lunatic rage, kills Lisa. That forever changed both the brother and sister, and obviously their lives, and as luck would have it, a 10-year-old Kabir gets convicted of the brutal murder of his parents.
But prison does him some good than any harm as he undergoes treatment and gets cured of his unstable mental state for long. Does he recover completely? That’s what he claims. When he gets released from protective custody and wants to move on in life, his sister, who is still haunted by that fateful night, is convinced that her parents’ deaths were caused by a malevolent supernatural force unleashed through the Lasser glass, an antique mirror in their childhood home her father had brought home. And what’s more? She is determined to prove her brother’s innocence and tracks down the mirror only to learn similar deaths, horrific press clippings with stories that had befallen the previous owners of the mirror over the past century — all related to the mirror that housed evil.
Natasha is hell-bent upon finding about the mysterious entity of the mirror, and insists that Kabir help her find their hold on their lives that had shattered their happiness and led to her terrifying hallucinations.
Little do they know that their childhood nightmare is going to make them relive not just the distress and suffering, but much more and even worse.
Natasha drags her brother and the monstrous mirror back to their vacant childhood home where, after revealing a virtual lab of computers, cameras and timers, she tries in vain to jog her brother’s memory of the supernatural phenomena they experienced as children. She seems to be adamant that this mirror courted death and that the two must make good on their childhood promise of destroying the mirror which is capable of defending it. Kabir pleads with her to stop being illogical and move on, and even tries to break the mirror, and that spells more trouble for them.
The script shows some flashes of horror in a moment of terror as we see the two characters as children hiding, or running in panic in their home at night while trying to escape a faceless man armed with a revolver. There is also a shadow of a spectral woman, a model known to be their father’s subject, who seems to be the reason for the chaos in the family.
And then, just when you expect something by way of a plot to unravel, or reveal, or even spring a surprise, the script uses many flashbacks back and forth to confuse you further.
Give me some moments that are genuinely and awfully disgusting and send shivers down my spine. Jumping through time periods, the narrative progression seems to be too caught up trying to explain the whats and whys of the somewhat talky film that borders on paranormal activities than a complex evil structure.
There was an interesting premise here with two good actors making their all-out effort to infuse some life into it, and even the original film’s director and co-writer, Mike Flanagan, serving as the executive producer. If deftly executed, Qureshi and Saqib lending sincere support to a story that’s not so chilling, could have made it far more watchable. Had Prawaal generated more twists it would have sustained its two-hour long length.
The writer is a film critic and has been reviewing films for over 15 years